Saturday, October 11, 2008

Weekend Roundup: Some Q & A's

We've been getting a lot of really great questions from you, so we'll answer some of them today!

How would you 'can' food at home? I've been wondering about doing that on my own but would rather have instructions to prevent possible waste.

When we suggest that you "can" food at home, this can mean two things. Sometimes you can "bottle" food using a pressure cooker or a hot water bath, and we call that canning as well. Other times, you need to "can" food using actual cans - usually #10 cans. For this, you need to borrow a canner or visit your local cannery. Many stakes have canners that get passed around among the members, so ask your Relief Society President if your stake has some. If not, ask about times when you can visit your local cannery. Many times you can just bring your own food to can and they will have the right tools there to help you out. You will have to pay for the cans and lids, but they are not expensive (42 cents per can).

If you don't have time to go to the cannery, or if you don't live near one, we suggest just buying the food already canned up (LDS Catalog is one option for this).

I have a 4 year old who is a very picky eater. He doesn't like granola bars or nutrigrain bars, what would you suggest I keep in a car kit that he would want to eat, but wouldn't melt during the summer?

Consider storing crackers or other dry snacks that won't melt. Goldfish are a favorite of my family. There are many possibilities.

Do you get a soft loaf with hard red wheat using your technique? I have never been successful using red wheat alone. I must mix the red wheat with white and other grains to get a tolerable loaf.

This may not be common knowledge for all, I know I was clueless when I entered the world of wheat, but there are many types of wheat you can buy. We buy 2 kinds: hard red wheat and hard white wheat. I'm not sure what the exact differences are but I have noticed that white wheat is, well, whiter. Imagine that.

This question was in response to this post where we made Soda Bread with whole wheat flour. If you'll notice from the picture, I actually used store bought wheat flour which is heavily processed to be more palatable.

With my food storage bread, Anna uses a combination of hard white and hard red (mostly hard white). I buy my wheat for everyday use in a bulk 25 lb sack, one at a time (separate from my long term storage), and I buy whatever the cannery has available. Lately that's been hard red wheat and so I use just hard red wheat to make my bread. Does this make it hard or intolerable? Not at all. In fact if I didn't know that I had only used hard red wheat, I wouldn't be able to tell. I think this is from the dough enhancer which makes the bread softer, especially on the inside.

So in the case of the soda bread, if you were using hard red wheat, just add a couple tablespoons of the dough enhancer. Homemade bread is quite different from store bought bread, especially store bought white bread, so when you start out introducing wheat to your family, it might be smart to start with the hard white wheat, or a mixture of the two. Our family has been eating wheat for several years, so we don't really notice a difference between the two. In fact I had to go back and look at pictures to see when we had hard white and when we had hard red. Despite the bad lighting...

Hard white wheat,

Hard red wheat.

I am confused about the longer-term storage. How much wheat/beans/rice/oats do I need? And do I need to buy it all in one month?

The longer-term storage can be a challenge. At the beginning of each month, when we first assign the "new" item for you to get, we'll tell you exactly how much you will want to have eventually (we'll probably refer you to a food storage calculator, and you can plug in number of family members, etc). Each month, make a personal goal for how much you will buy that month. Many people cannot afford to buy all they need at once, so when we gather that longer-term item again (4 months later), you can just pick up where you left off.

For example, maybe you can make a goal to buy 1 box (six #10 cans) of each assigned item each month (from LDS Catalog, for example). This would be easy to remember, and everything will just be shipped right to your door, already canned and ready to be put away. We continually rotate through the longer-term items, so eventually you'll get as much as you need.

I thought pears had to be "hot packed". Or is that peaches, or both?

When I was researching how to can pears I ran across that same issue. Many of the websites I visited said that pears could be cold packed (what I did) but the taste wasn't as good. However, that seemed like a lot of work (meaning I'm lazy) so I called and asked a member of my expert canning team (re: my mom) and she told me that she's always just cold packed pears. Well, that's what I always ate and it tasted fine so I went ahead and canned the easy way. But you could can using the hot pack method if you wanted to.

Where online did you find the dough enhancer?

I've never personally bought dough enhancer online, I always coerce one of my family members to buy it in Utah and mail it to me. Speaking of which, I need some more guys! Anna recommends Kitchen Kneads. I found the dough enhancer listed under food products.

Where do you buy your canned chicken? It's just so expensive in the stores, and so I rarely buy it!

I agree. I NEVER bought canned chicken until I started blogging here. Now I watch for it to go on sale and buy a couple each time. I also look for it at Sam's Club or other warehouses where I can get five cans for under $10. It is more expensive than I'd like to pay, but I also want the nutrition it would give us in an emergency. Keep in mind that you don't want to plan all your meals around meat because canned meat is expensive. I have planned the majority of our meals around beans because (1) they are inexpensive, (2) they are a great source of protein, (3) they are inexpensive.

Do you have a generator for in case the power goes out for a length of time? What do you recommend? What are some pros and cons?

Neither of us has a generator, which is one reason why we spend so much time teaching you how to cook without electricity! There are many kinds of generators, ranging in price and style. If you are looking to buy a generator, you need to take into account the size of your home and how much electricity you want/need to use in an emergency. Popular Mechanics has a good article here about different models of generators. Good luck!

I was looking at your 3-month menu and it referred to a "basics" page, but I couldn't find it.

The reason the "basics" page isn't available is because we're revamping our 3-month menu and shopping list to include breakfast, lunch, and dinner and all the basics in one document. Look for it soon!

If you email us with a question, we try to get back to you personally. However, sometimes we just don't get a chance to do that. If you have any questions, please email us (or re-email us!) and we'll address them in our next Q&A post! We'll also try to get back to you personally. Thanks!


JennVan said...

Hello, I love your blog and follow it all the time. I had a question about canning. I thought that hot water canning was different from pressure canning. What are your thoughts on this? Also, I think there are 2 more kinds of wheat, soft white and soft red. What is the difference between winter wheat and spring wheat? I've seen those around the different sites I visit.

Thanks for the help!

Julie said...

Where can you buy double boilers and the pots etc...needed to bottle things at home? Do you have a cheap place to buy jars or do I just have to get them at the grocery store (which is the only place I have ever found them.)?

I love your site! Thanks for the help!!!


Jess said...

I love this blog!! Your doing a great job getting valuable info out!! ;)

I would love to hear any advice for those of us who eat RAW or vegetarian.... on the different types of grains and such we could store to use for sprouting to have fresh greens.... ;0)??....or what your recommendations woulf be for food storage in that regard..

Anna said...

Thanks for all you do on your blog! I LOVE it! Today, we just got finished buying our entire 3 month supply thanks to your website. And we also finished our 72 hour kits last month! Thank you for giving me that extra boost to get it all done. The cashier at Aldi's said, "How do you know how much food to buy?" and I said, "Well, I found this FABULOUS website!" and told her about you all!
Thanks again!!!!!!

Sharron said...

Dough enhancer is not needed for wonderful, soft whole wheat bread. Dissolve a Vitamin C or ascorbic acid tablet in your liquids, add 1/4 to 1/2 c. gluten flour for 4-6 loaves of bread. Make sure you don't add too much flour, easy to do if you are using a machine to mix. When you take the dough out to form loaves, let it rest for ten minutes, then shape, etc. on surface that is oiled, not floured. With practise, you will develop the "feel" and soon have bread that is soft and satisfying to all but the most die hard "Wonder bread" lovers. WARNING: If you get too good at this, you end up getting requests for rolls at all the church dinners!

Ashley said...

Hannah, thanks for commenting on my blog and giving me your link. Your blog is exactly what I need to help me along with my food storage. You make it seem fun and doable. I can't wait to find time to read more of your archives, and I'm add you to my bloglines. Thanks for all your work on this!

Michael and Emily said...

I just found your blog from a friend, and I am really excited to have found it. I just got married and am really starting to think about food storage, but I kind of feel overwhelmed. So hopefully this will help me slowly get things in order. I would like your opinion on something though. How do you budget for food? We have done really well so far; we don't eat out and I do look for sales, but I never know how much I'm going to spend at the grocery store. Add on top of that getting food storage when there is a sale as well. So how do you budget for food?

Darlene said...

I don't know how much "dough enhancer is or what's in it, but there are a couple of choices for "foldable" bread that's 100% home ground wheat and it doesn't matter what "type" wheat you use.

You can buy some "Vital gluten" in the flour aisle of the store (about $1.99 for a 12 oz pkg) or you can make "wheat meat" (raw gluten) and then dry and grind it. Probably cheaper and there's NO additives, but since I live in the south and we have to have wheat shipped out here at a cost of about $45 for a 50lb bag, I've never played with making gluten.

I use my bread machine and use 1 tbs of the store-bought "Vital gluten" to 3 cups of flour for a 1.5lb loaf. I can fold this bread and it doesn't crumble.

You can also add 1 TBS of Lecithin with the gluten. I found that it wasn't "necessary".

I have a recipe for this bread on my blog along with tips for using the bread machine. (hope it's ok to mention my blog, if not, please remove that portion of my comments.)

As to generators. I live in the South and we get a lot of power outages due to storms. Over the years, I've heard a lot of people complain that when they used their generators, it ended up messing up electronics/appliances to the point of having to replace them ALL - and not just the computerized ones. Only after the fact did they learn that they should have placed the generator on a surge protector and then the rest of the electrical items on their own surge protectors. Actually, all electronic appliances (those with computers attached - newer fridges, tv's, computers, printers, cell phones that are charging, etc...)should ALL be on surge protectors already!

It's possible that the new generation of generators have improved to where there's not a problem any more, but I thought I'd forewarn anyone looking to use a generator to check with someone knowledgeable about the brand they are using. Surge protectors run anywhere from $15 on up.